Tirana, Albania | 03 Aug (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has condemned the anti-Albanian chanting used by a group of young militants during a nationalist commemorative gathering in the town of Kruševo in neighboring Macedonia.
“We believe that these are actions coming from a small group of people driven by extreme nationalist feelings and we hope that such incidents that incite ethnic hatred will remain isolated. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania calls on the responsible institutions to investigate the instigators of violence and bring them to justice.” – read a statement on the Ministry’s website.
The strong statement comes after anti-Albanian chanting was overheard during a commemorative event in the town of Kruševo where participants were remembering the ‘Ilinden Uprising’ of August 1903 where predominantly ethnic Bulgarian peasants and the Aromanian population of the region rose against Ottoman forces in the region.
Despite the presence of Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov who was delivering a speech at the event, a group of young nationalists were recorded chanting anti-Albanian racist slogans “Good Albanian, Dead Albanian”
While Ivanov largely ignored the slogans and later its office failed to condemn the young nationalists, Macedonia’s progressive prime minister Zoran Zaev immediately spoke out against the incident.
“The Government of Macedonia condemns calls for hatred and violence which go against the interests of the Macedonian citizens. Ilinden is a day for unity not divisions.” – said Zaev through a statement.
Macedonia’s stability, which comprises 30% of its population as ethnic Albanians, has come under threat from several inter-ethnic conflicts between its majority Slavic and minority Albanian populations, most notably during an armed uprising in 2000 which ended with the Ohrid Agreement, granting wider rights to its Albanian population.
Despite the agreement, ethnic relations have been fragile and are largely preserved through a power-sharing deal at the government level. Relations between the two communities on the ground remain frail.
Albania and Macedonia are both expecting to start EU membership talks next year and both countries enjoy relatively good neighborly relations, despite isolated incidents at such events.
The small Balkan country will soon go to a national referendum which is expected to ratify a recent deal with Greece over a new name of ‘North Macedonia’, which is disputed by opposition nationalist party VRMO-DPMNE, where President Ivanov comes from.
“Albania and Albanians have been and will be long-lasting friends of Macedonia. We believe in the values of coexistence, in the harmony and cooperation between our countries and our citizens.” – ended the statement from Tirana.
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